American Idol recap: Chris Martin mentors the Top 7 on first-ever Coldplay Night
It's a scientific fact that moms love Coldplay, so it makes sense that the Top 7 performances will consist of one round of Coldplay songs — a first for American Idol — and a round of songs dedicated to moms and mother figures in their lives. After those two performances (and one Coldplay performance), live coast-to-coast voting will end and the Top 7 will become our Top 5. We're getting so close to the finale, people! Who will get this thing done in the end?
Casey Bishop, "Paradise" by Coldplay
Chris Martin is excited Casey picked this Coldplay song because it's very much about a girl like her, who has a ton of potential but is anxious and unsure until the end of the song. As she starts singing for him in rehearsal, he tells her to stop — there's nothing he can help her with; she's that good. He thinks one day Coldplay will be opening for her. The song is a little shaky at first but really picks up in the back half. Katy Perry loves to see her "let loose" like she did once she hit the middle of the song and wants her to "harness that [Chris Martin] energy." Luke Bryan agrees about bringing the energy but also tells Casey that he's "never heard [her] hit a bad note."
Chayce Beckham, "Magic" by Coldplay
I feel like this Chris Martin mentor situation might not be a one-time thing; he's having so much fun. With Chayce, he says that he likes Chayce's take on "Magic" so much that he forgot to mentor and simply wanted to play with the guy. Like Casey's performance, this one is a little lackluster in the front half, but once Chayce hits some of those power notes partway through the song, it picks up. Luke praises Chayce for putting his "artistic signature" on every song he does, but more importantly, loves to see how much he seems to be enjoying the process this week. Lionel Richie, too, tells him that it's all about that mix of "confidence" and "having fun" and this week, Chayce has both.
Willie Spence, "Yellow" by Coldplay
This might be my favorite Willie Spence performance thus far in the competition; not only does he sound amazing, but it's also so unexpected. I would have never picked "Yellow" for Willie's powerful voice, but the theme of the night has pulled something new out of him. Lionel calls it a "religious experience," and Katy gives a shout-out to Chris Martin for being cool enough and humble enough to help Willie really make this song his own. In rehearsal, they work on stripping it down and making Willie shine. It gives new layers to the song. Luke tells him that he'll "cherish the times [he's] gotten to watch [Willie] perform," that's how moved he is by the singer.
Caleb Kennedy, "Violet Hill" by Coldplay
Caleb seems so disconnected and uncomfortable during this performance. It makes some sense that he'd have trouble with Coldplay week since it's somewhat out of his wheelhouse, but the judges still seem to be impressed. Katy was scared "in a good way," and Luke thinks that if Caleb brings the energy he did in the first 30 seconds of the song, he'll be golden. Lionel does point out that he could see Caleb's confidence "dip" a bit throughout and reminds him to bring it 100 percent every time he performs.
Arthur Gunn, "In My Place" by Coldplay
Arthur Gunn really changes the arrangement of this Coldplay song — he gets rid of the melody completely — but Chris Martin is very cool about it. He sees music as "an ongoing conversation" and isn't protective of his songs. In fact, he and Arthur work on chord choices in rehearsal, changing it even more. It's a cool vibe once Arthur's up on stage. But, as Katy says, she wanted to sing along and she couldn't, so sometimes it might behoove him to play along a little more. Still, it "sounded like we were at [his] show," she says. Luke and Lionel agree — and all of them continue to praise his sense of artistry.
Grace Kinstler, "Fix You" by Coldplay
When Grace meets with Chris Martin, she's still deciding between two songs: "Hymn for the Weekend" is her first inclination because it allows her to belt, and she knows she can nail those big power notes. But she's also considering "Fix You," which would show a more vulnerable side to her. Chris has her sing both but seems to be pushing "Fix You" precisely because it scares her a little. He wants her to be okay with being vulnerable and stop worrying about being perfect. She goes with "Fix You," and it really does show a new side to Grace. Katy praises the "intimacy" in the song and thought she was more connected than ever: "You finally arrived," Katy tells Grace. Luke is also a huge fan of this performance, saying that he forgot he was doing a job because he was so lost in the performance. "It was amazing," he says.
Hunter Metts, "Everglow" by Coldplay
Chris tells Hunter that he wrote this song while listening to a lot of Bonnie Raitt and it is sort of a tribute to "I Can't Make You Love Me," which is funny because Hunter crushed that song earlier in the competition. Chris is a Hunter fan — he says he feels like the old lion watching the new lion come along. Hunter's a threat! In a good way! He also suggests raising the key of the song, which doesn't exactly work in Hunter's favor in the real performance, but there are some great moments in the song. Luke thought it really "showcased" that Hunter's superpower is how unique his voice is. Lionel agrees, and thinks that with the combo of his instantly identifiable sound and his storyteller's voice, "the sky's the limit."
Mother's Day Dedications
Casey Bishop, "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette
Yep, yes, okay, I love Casey Bishop doing Alanis. I can't believe it's taken this long! With that hair? Come on! By the end, the judges are up on their feet, dancing along. It's a party! Katy tells Casey that this was the type of energy she was talking about in the previous round. "Keep bringing that stage presence and energy, and I promise it's going to work," she says. Luke can tell Casey was happy to do a rock song in her wheelhouse again finally and loves seeing her in her element like that. Lionel calls both her stage presence and song selection "right on the money." She's back doing her thing and it feels good.
Chayce Beckham, "Mama" by Chayce Beckham
Chayce is singing an original he wrote for his mom during Hollywood Week (how productive!). It's deeply personal, and more than any other performance of Chayce's, it really gives us a glimpse of what kind of artist he'll be after this whole thing is over. The judges give him a standing ovation, and his mom, watching over video, is crying. Then Chayce is crying! What a time this is! Lionel tells Chayce to put that song out immediately because it'll be "a smash record." Katy is moved by this "sensitive, vulnerable heavy machinery operator" making his mother cry on live television and gives the whole thing a big "A-plus, A-plus, A-plus!"
Willie Spence, "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker
Willie can try to make me forget about how great "Yellow" was earlier with his deeply fabulous pink blazer, but sorry, I just can't. He sounds great here, too (what's new?), but "Yellow" was the peak. Luke calls out Willie's ability to infuse classic songs with "signature" "Willie runs," and Lionel says that the way Willie "navigate[s] the notes is unbelievable." Katy, again, praises Willie for how "connected" he seems in his vocals tonight. He makes it all seem so easy, doesn't he?
Caleb Kennedy, "Mama Said" by Caleb Kennedy
Caleb's taking his hat off for his dedication to his mom! I love this for him. This is another original song, and like Chayce, it's a smart move for Caleb because it shows off a vulnerability that covering songs just can't. Lionel's found another song that he would like released as a single immediately. Luke calls Caleb "an anomaly" because he can write songs that "truly connect" like that at such a young age. And Katy's thrilled to see Caleb opening up like this. Without his hat, singing a meaningful, intimate song has Caleb looking "brighter and better." He's turning things around.
Arthur Gunn, "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
The judges don't have much more to say about Arthur Gunn, it seems. The performance doesn't really feel emotionally connected, but it's undeniable that Arthur is an artist with a signature sound. Katy thought the choice, although not the first song you'd think of for Mother's Day, ended up being a great way to show off his voice, and Lionel again calls him a "stylist." Luke, a fan of Arthur's vocals, does get to the heart of the matter: He needs to "dig in even more" because the competition is tough as the season winds down, and he needs to be pushing and "up there fighting" every time he steps on stage.
Grace Kinstler, "When We Were Young" by Adele
This song is one of Grace's mom's favorites, and hey, it sounds great on her voice, too. Kismet! With this song, it feels like Grace gets both elements she was considering in the Coldplay round: Not only does she get to be vulnerable, but she gets to belt the hell out of a song. And after two knockout performances, Katy tells Grace that she's "proud of [her]" because she really "stepped up [her] game" tonight. Luke calls the performance "magical" and says it was "like being in a movie," so whatever she did that morning, she should keep doing it. It is working tonight for Grace.
Hunter Metts, "The River" by Hunter Metts
The boys on their guitars singing original songs for their moms tonight, huh?! I'm living for it. Hunter's really coming for the Idol title with this performance. It's emotional and haunting and he feels very connected in the moment. Luke gives it a 10 out of 10 and calls it "a musical experience done by a pro" and Lionel agrees, telling Hunter that he really jumped to a professional level with that vocal. Katy is on board with all the original songs tonight, and applauds Hunter for being in "the driver's seat of [his] message." He sounds ready to take on whatever's next.
This cut from seven to five will be a tough one — especially because it doesn't feel like there's any runaway front-runner at this moment. The win is up for grabs, people! But two contestants need to be cut, and Ryan Seacrest reveals that the artists going home tonight are...Arthur Gunn and Hunter Metts (okay, that one stings).
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